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Navigation’s Value to the Nation

August 10th, 2010
LTG Van and COL Anderson look over the rail of a boat during a tour of the Chesapeake Bay.

Lt. Gen Van and Col. Anderson, commander of the Baltimore District, discuss navigation while touring the Chesapeake Bay on the Linthicum, a USACE survey vessel.

Last night I had the privilege to represent the 37,000 dedicated men and women of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in throwing out the first pitch before a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a stadium which sits next to the city’s beautiful Inner Harbor.  And while I was honored to participate in this event, I was even more grateful to our Baltimore District for the opportunity to explore the area’s waterways earlier in the day and see first-hand an element of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that few know about, but from which nearly everyone benefits.

Nearly $2 trillion worth of trade travels up, down, in, and out of our Nation’s harbors and waterways.  Baltimore is one of 926 ports and harbors and leads to some of the 12,000 miles of our Nation’s federal channels.  The Corps is responsible for keeping those ports operational and those channels open so that we can provide safe, reliable, efficient, effective and environmentally sustainable waterborne transportation systems for movement of commerce, national security needs, and recreation.  By moving that commerce up and down our rivers, we are helping to reduce stress on land and air transportation systems, and on the environment.

Did you know that a 15 barge tow equals 216 rail cars and 6 locomotives or 1,050 semi-tractor trailer trucks?  Overall, this system of waterways handles over 544 million metric tons of freight annually, keeping this traffic off our overcrowded highways and railroads.  That’s getting ‘er done!

Keeping these rivers and harbors open is a team effort between the Corps and the communities along each mile of the waterway.  We work closely with our partners to ensure we’re operating and maintaining these waterways in the safest and most environmentally sound way possible.  And it’s just another way that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works to build a stronger nation.

Best,
Van

Civil Works, Navigation , , ,

A Diamond in the Rough; Celebrating 75 Years

July 28th, 2009

This week, I’m in Nebraska, honoring the 75th anniversary of our district office in Omaha. That’s pretty remarkable – 75 years. That’s the traditional “diamond” anniversary.

Next week, I’ll mark 36 years with my bride, and I sure hope we make it to 75! I remember my 50th birthday, we were getting ready to go out.  I looked in the mirror and  pulled a “Fonzi” (from the Happy Days TV show) – took out my comb and put it away without using it- like my hair looked perfect already.  I turned to her and said, “I just turned 50, do I look it?”

She said, “You used to.” That still cracks me up.

So this anniversary has me thinking about how much things change through the years. The Omaha District was originally established in 1934 as part of what was then known as “Missouri River Division” with a straightforward mission of navigation on the main stem of the Missouri, and nothing else. 

My, have times changed!  Now they do a little bit of everything… dams, levees, flood-fighting, military construction, environmental clean-up… and the list goes on.

Here’s a link to a story about some of the really neat things the Omaha District has done through the years – check it out.

It all boils down to people, though – and Omaha has some GREAT people. Since 2001, more than 100 employees of that small district office have volunteered for service in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and elsewhere. That’s America’s Heartland, right there.

People are like diamonds – you find out what they’re really made of when you put them under great pressure. The people who’ve made the Omaha District successful these past 75 years are diamonds in my book with all 4 C’s – my own 4 C’s: Character, commitment, Competency  and Chemistry!

Congrats, Omaha District!

Civil Works, Corps Projects, Locks and Dams, Navigation , , ,